Flores is just 21 years old and has yet to pitch above Low-A. Right off the bat, that makes him unlikely to stick, although his numbers do give pause.
Flores, a reliever, has quite a few skills. He throws the ball hard and in the strike zone, which is a nice start. His 90-95 mph bullets on the corners overmatched Low-A hitters this past season, as he posted a 51/7 K/BB ratio in 42 innings. With just one homer allowed, that’s a 1.58 FIP–pretty stellar, no?
Unlike first pick Rodriguez, even if Flores sticks, he’s highly unlikely to make any sort of meaningful contribution in 2011, more likely sticking as the last man in the bullpen and only being trotted out on rare, blowout-oriented occasions. It’s just too hard to jump from Low-A to the majors and not expect severe growing pains.
All in all, it’s easy to see what the Mariners were thinking here, as Flores definitely has some positives. Still, there are enough question marks and negatives to make this a worthless pick more likely than not (Not to sound harsh with the word “worthless;” it’s just that the majority of Rule 5′ers wind up that way, since they’re offered back to their original teams).